Ask the gardening expert

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My husband did some work for a person at a bulb farm, and the owner gave him a bag of daffodil bulbs. I'm looking at them and can't tell what they are -- some are rather large round, and feel heavy for their size, others are longish and skinner, several have new one growing off the side. Can you guess by my description what they are?

I surely cannot, not without seeing them. Even then I'd be guessing. There are so many bulb plants available these days, not to mention all their named varieties. Do we dare guess they are all daffodils, Narcissus? There is a vast number of narcissus and their hybrids, nearly too many to count. Then, of course, hyacinths, iris, and minor bulbs galore.

Since the person was nice enough to give them to your family, you need to get them planted now. Planting them in your existing planters is an ideal place for them. Make sure the planter gets sunshine while they are growing, and maybe some dappled shade after they are finished blooming. I have mine planted in large containers, (away from gophers and other tulip bulb eaters) added to some coralbells, dwarf chamaecypress, evergreen ferns, and grasses. I've planted pink tulips that look quite charming combined with the permanent shrubby things in the planter and I often add a primrose or pansy later in spring.

So get them into the soil so they can get going. Lucky you! Your family is in for a lovely spring show with a small element of surprise.

I wanted to make some money so my dad told me he'd pay me to rake up all the wet leaves in the back yard. There are millions of them, they are so heavy after all this rain.

I want to borrow the neighbors mulching mower and just chop them all up, I think the wind would blow them away then.

My dad thinks I should rake them. Somewhere I read it's good to put the chopped leaves on the lawn?

Yikes, I don't want to get into a family thing here. But I am guessing your dad is right -- I'm thinking that you are not wrong that chopped leaves can be good left on the lawn, but the problem is you've waited too long to have a good result with the mulching mower. That needed to be done several times as the leaves were falling. Now it would only work if there were less of them and they weren't all packed down by their own wet selves. It sounds as if it is just a thick, heavy mat. The mower would not do it for you. It's elbow grease for you, I'm afraid.

I'm new to gardening and am in the process of planning my shrubs and trees: the type to buy and the place to plant them. I was so surprised to see a dead looking fir tree in my neighbors yard. I ask her about it and she told me it is deciduous. A larch she said, and it drops it leaves (needles?) each winter.

I never heard of such a thing. It's not too pretty now, but she says she likes it. Why would one plant one of those trees?

Deciduous conifers are a nice addition to one's garden plan. They have oh-so gorgeous new leaves in spring. Then the wonderful fall color that genus offers.

There are several others, she may have told you. I'm thinking of the Dawn Redwood; 'Metasequoia glytostroboides' -- A mouth full huh? For many years the foresters and nurserymen of the world thought this ancient tree was extent, but in the mid-1940s several were discovered in northern China. Now of course, they are in many gardens around the world.

I can name a few other deciduous conifers; such as the Larch tree 'Larix', the Baldcypress, 'Taxodum' and the Ginko biloba. All of these trees have suffered the fate of an untrained maintenance person believing it's a dead tree and removed it. Oops! The gardener probably waited quite a few years to have it grow to this size. Double Oops!!


Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to mslindsay8@gmail.com.